Watch Master Yang Jun (6th Generation) performing the 49 demonstration form.
This is a translation of a four-page summary of the 49-move form which appeared in Yang Zhenduo’s 1995 book ‘Yang Shi Taiji Quan, Jian, Dao’ (the pink edition), pages 214-217.
These days we in Yang style, one of the more popular styles of Tai Chi Chuan, are often called on to participate in public demonstrations, inciting people’s interest and promoting our way of fitness. But the time it takes to perform the original sequence is rather long, and can often come into conflict with the requirements of scheduling numerous performances. There are often many performances in a program, and the audience members may have differing interests, so it is actually quite inconvenient to take up too much time. Therefore we can only perform the first or the second section; it’s difficult to perform the whole form. Or at a competition, also because of time constraints, it becomes hard to schedule, which is why the Chinese Department of Physical Education has designated that at competitions, we must perform the first or second section within an 8 minute time frame. In both cases – demonstration and competition – we cannot perform the entire form. From the point of view of both audience and performer, this leaves a sense of something left out.
For many years amateurs and professionals in the taiji world have wished that a form might be created, suitable for both demo and competition purposes, which could also embody the moves of the traditional form.
In order to fulfill this objective need, and satisfy the requirements of Tai Chi players, after research the Association put forward a draft of a new form, and after public trials revised numerous spots based upon the opinions put forward. We now formally publish this form, to be the the official demonstration form of our Association, and from now forward this will also be our competition form.
As to the arrangement of the sequence, the essential idea was, without going against the basis of the traditional form, to appropriately edit out some repeated moves and shrink the performance time such that with a compact and speedy rhythm, we could participate in various group activities. This is required by the times, there is an objective need for it, it is as they say an idea whose time has come.
From the list of moves of the new form, it can clearly be seen that moves 1 thru 11, 13 thru 18, 21 thru 24, 26 thru 35, and 38 thru 49, all basically preserve their original appearance as they were in the sequence of the traditional form, and starting from this basis, we have cut out a portion of the repeated moves as was appropriate, took a small number of moves which were difficult to fit in and re-inserted them in other spots in the sequence, and in a few cases added in moves to aid transitions. Anyone who can do the traditional form need only work a little bit on the re-inserted moves and changed transitions and then they can do the new form without much difficulty.
Some have asked, is this new form ‘simplified’ Yang style Tai Chi Chuan? We don’t think that it is correct to say so, because we have only made a few changes in the sequence, the basic structure hasn’t changed. Particularly valuable and hard to achieve is the fact that we have preserved all movements of the traditional form. Although the total number of moves are different, nothing has been omitted. The organization is strict and the moves fit together smoothly. The style, the special characteristics and the appearance of the traditional form are all retained. So we really cannot use the term ‘simplified Tai Chi’ for this, to avoid engendering a misunderstanding and adversely affecting the healthy development of the traditional form. As to the new sequence that we have created, we feel that it is a significant innovation which will allow us to easily display the outstanding qualities of the form at all kinds of public events.
This form is not appropriate for individual form practice. Normally when you practice you should still primarily practice the traditional sequence, and then when done with that, practice the competition form.
The new form is primarily for competition and demo use, and so the sequence was rearranged with a view to reduce performance time and eliminate repeated moves. However from the point of view of arrangement and structure the new form is not as scientific as the traditional form. So when the new form has only begun, we immediately go into some demanding postures. If the person practicing has not done some warm up exercises prior to starting, there may be a feeling of some strain. The traditional form, by contrast, proceeds gradually from gentle moves toward a climax. The traditional form is particularly clever in that it gently sets up the basis in the first section, and then intersperses the relatively difficult moves throughout the second and third sections, where the repetition of earlier moves has a very good regulating function. This way the person practicing is free and easy, relaxed and natural, and though he may finish an entire round of the form or even multiple rounds, he can accomplish it without the least strain.
Time requirements: demo, 10 minutes for one round, while for competition one round should take 6 minutes.